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Permission to Reincarnate
Abstract: Can a bureaucracy administer reincarnation?
"The so-called reincarnated living Buddha without government approval is illegal and invalid," according to a new order from China's leaders which goes into effect September 1.
The complex regulation issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs in Beijing is intended to limit the influence of the Dalai Lama and to prevent the re-incarnation of the 72-year-old monk without approval from Beijing.
China already insists that only the Government can approve the appointments of Tibet's two most important monks, the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.
The Dalai Lama's announcement in May, 1995 that a search inside Tibet (conducted with the cooperation of a prominent abbot) had identified the 11th reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, who died in 1989, enraged Beijing.
Communist authorities insisted that the search be restarted and sent a senior Politburo member to Lhasa to oversee the final choice.
The boy chosen by the Dalai Lama has disappeared. The abbot who worked with the Dalai Lama was jailed and has since vanished. (Read more in The Search for the Panchen Lama by Isabel Hilton.)
Several sets of rules on seeking out "soul boys" were promulgated in 1995, but not enforced. Hundreds of living Buddhas are now believed to live inside and outside China.
The new regulations prohibit anyone outside China from taking part in the process of seeking and recognising a living Buddha, effectively excluding the Dalai Lama, who has traditionally played an important role in giving recognition to candidate reincarnates.
According to some reports, the Dalai Lama has said that he will not be reborn in Tibet while it remains under Chinese control.
(Source: Jane McCartney, The Times, August 4, 2007.)